Kristi's Kids

Mar 27, 2014 12:24 AM by Kristi Tedesco

Child Welfare Director addresses Tucson child abuse cases

PHOENIX - The man tasked with rebuilding Arizona's broken child welfare system spoke exclusively to Kristi's Kids about Tucson's latest, high-profile child abuse cases.

Charles Flanagan is the Director of Governor Jan Brewer's new "Division of Child Welfare and Family Services." He says, the cases of three year old Roman Barreras and two year old Anthony Armenta should give us pause and teach us lessons.

In the case of Roman Barreras, who was starved to death and buried in a toy chest, Flanagan says, we need to rewrite state law.

Roman and his siblings were removed from their parents when Roman was born (because his mother tested positive for drugs.) The children were, eventually, returned to their father and their CPS case was closed. There would be three calls, after that, to the CPS hotline regarding the children. Two from an elementary school, when Roman's older sibling failed to attend, and another when Roman went missing. None of those calls were investigated by CPS.

Flanagan tells Kristi's Kids, "We don't have the authority under law to go back and check on a child after the case is closed. We don't have authority to make sure services are provided beyond when a case is closed."

Meantime, Flanagan's office is still investigating the case of Anthony Armenta, who remains hospitalized with permanent brain damage. Tucson police and doctors at UAMC say, Anthony was hurt in foster care. His 34-year-old foster mom, Griselda Badilla, is charged with child abuse. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says, Badilla's immigration status is in question.

Also, Anthony's parents tell Kristi's Kids, they tried to report the abuse their son was suffering and were told- if they went to the media- they'd lose visitation with their son.

Flanagan says, "I do not know, from the investigation, whether we know if that's true or not, but I'll tell you this... If I ever discover that an employee does that to a family for any reason, or does something inappropriate, I will take swift and sure action."

Flanagan says, Arizona's child welfare system is completely broken and he plans to rebuild it. He says, right now, he's trying to hire more case workers. There are positions open, if you'd like to apply.

To see the posted CPS positions, click here.

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